There were a few things I failed to bring home from the Giro d’Italia – a course marker, the media sticker from our car window, more than one pair of Italian shoes for Mrs. Pez… but an interview with the Podium Girls was not one of them!
The subjects on another indepth PEZ interview: Manuela and Michela.
Who You Know
At stage 15, I asked Federico – the man in charge of the credentials – about who arranged the promotional “Miss” category of the Giro, as I was keen to set up an interview (for you fans of course…) Although details on how the ladies were organized remained somewhat unclear (this is Italy…), the ever-helpful Federico mentioned that he knew the Esta Thй (iced tea sponsor) girls – who also were the daily presenters of the maglia rosa, and that he’d be happy to ask for an interview.
In a country that functions largely on the “who you know” system – I was tapped in.
Yo Buckwheat – you’re drooling on your mouse…
Three days later, at the TT start in Chieri, I went to Federico to follow-up. In spite of a rather oppressive throng of daily credentials seekers mobbing the small trailer where Federico was working – he was happy to stop his work and step outside to discuss the very important details of the interview he’d arranged. I was feeling downright important.
Yes, he’d talked to the girls – Manuela and Michela, and they were happy to talk to me. He said they were both very nice, and very professional. In fact I should go to the Esta Thй hospitality tent in the villagio at this very moment and meet the girls.
Okay I thought – so it’s off to meet the Podium Girls – and not just any – these were basically the top podium girls at the Giro. You’d think by this time I’d have been somewhat used to being around so many olive skinned beauties, but I could feel my pulse quicken as I headed off, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the 3 espressos I’d already had…
Michela approaches the podium at stage 13.
It’s about 90+ degrees on tarmac in the villagio, and inside the Esta Thй tent is the usual selection of suave looking Italian men, shirts unbuttoned, hair slicked back, designer shades, $300 shoes… you get the picture. And in walks me, sporting shorts, Pez socks, back-pack – luckily I’d picked up a new pair of RayBans in Milano – so at least I had the shades.
I spot Michela (blonde curls and sparkling eyes) and stumble into my intro. Fortunately she understands enough of my personal dialect of Italian to quickly suggest that I talk directly to Manuela – the striking brunette – who also happens to speak very good English.
On Duty: The girls enjoy the best part of the day with race leader Savoldelli. (…until he totally soaked Manuela with that champagne.)
Although neither of the ladies had heard of PezCycling, both were happy to take time out from their duties in the sponsors’ tent to speak with a self-described “very important North American journalist”. We grabbed a couple of chairs and got down to business.
I was immediately struck by their attentiveness – they were friendly and eager to chat – and both listened intently to whatever words dribbled out of my mouth.
I was also struck by their obvious beauty – both women were rather… shall we say “distracting” – and even more so from my close proximity. (I was reminded of when I met Mrs. Pez for the first time!) They both stood a good inch taller than me – wearing the requisite high heels of course (them, not me).
This presented a small problem as I could no longer remember any of my questions. But I did get this – Michela is 23 and this was her first Giro. Manuela was 24 but had worked here before. They both love the job – as they’re paid to travel around Italy for 3 weeks, meet all kinds of people (including some pretty big sports stars), and of course appear on tv each day.
”Aah, Come on… just a little pinch…”
The meeting was over much too fast, and I hoped I didn’t come off like another bumbling doofus. After my head cleared, I decided to follow up with Manuela by email and get a bit more info. Here’s where I discovered she’s much more than just a pretty face…
Manuela Kali: a quick scan of the stats in her two websites www.manuelakali.it & www.mecnamara.it (which she built herself) reveals she’s from Rome, is a Scorpio, is a smoker (like so many Italians), and actually does not like pizza, but did compete in the Miss Italia contest a few years back. She’s a make-up artist by day, is pursuing a career in film and television, and her site is full of clips and pics from her media appearances. There’s a bunch more info there about personal likes and dislikes, but you’ll need an Italian dictionary to figure ‘em out.
She’s also interested in art, and has done several pretty impressive drawings and paintings that are worth a look – if you make it past her modeling shots…
At Last: The INTERVIEW
Pez: Is there a lot of competition to get hired as a Giro Miss? Is a job with the Giro d’Italia considered quite prestigious in Italy?
Manuela: There were like 400 people auditioning to get this job, there’s a lot of girls…and I think, yes, it’s a great job! The whole month on tv, it’s good…..
Pez: What is the mood like among all the girls working at the Giro? Is everyone friendly, or is there ever any jealousy because certain girls get to present special jerseys?
Manuela: There’s a little competition with the other hostess…but the Giro goes on good and friendly.
Pez: What is your favorite part of the work at the Giro?
Manuela: Our favorite part of the work is absolutely being on the podium and the people we work with…
Michela relaxes in the Esta The tent before the tifosi stampede.
Pez: How did you get started in this line of work? Is it something you were interested in from a young age?
Manuela: We start 8 years ago… some work in fashion, some magazine… tv spot, etc.
Pez: What are your long term goals from this career – do you hope to get into television, modelling, etc?
Manuela: Michela, she likes modeling, but I’m looking to be an actress.
Pez: What type of work would you be doing if you were not doing this?
Manuela: Michela: stylist. Manuela: make up artist (it’s also my second work!!!)
Pez: Briefly describe your daily duties at the Giro.
Manuela: We start early morning in the Giro village at the departure of the cyclist, when they go, we take the car and get to the finish… and we wait for the podium presentations. When all it’s finish we go to the hotel, some nights there’s a party.
Pez: What other personal interests do you have? And of course our readers will want to know if your are single!
Manuela: Michela likes drawing, so do I, I’m in the first level in a art school….and, sorry… we’re not singles
Pez: Finally – do you have any other photos from your portfolio we could use for the interview … maybe some modelling shots?
Manuela: Sure, and after tomorrow I’ll do some photos 4 Maxim magazine… I’ll tell u in time ok?
– Un abbraccio
Grazie mille to Manuela and Michela for spending a little time with us – now if I can just find a copy of Italian Maxim…
Check out Manuela’s:
• Serious website: www.ManuelaKali.it
• Fun website: www.mecnamara.it